Cloud Gardens is a puzzle game set after an apocalypse. Unlike most games set after an apocalypse, Cloud Gardens doesn’t rely on zombies, monsters or how awful humanity is but instead how peaceful and tranquil the world will be once humanity has left it. The point of Cloud Gardens is to highlight and showcase the return of nature once we have gone and how quickly nature will take over manmade structures.
When the game begins you’re straight into your first puzzle, equipped with a seed and a few bits of rubble. This is essentially how you approach each individual puzzle, but your arsenal of both seeds and waste increases as you progress through the game. The challenge will come from trying to fit everything in the small space you have been given while also reaching your goal of filling as much of it as possible with plant life.
It’s certainly not the most challenging puzzler yet it still does a good job of making you think, but never stressing you out. That’s Cloud Gardens’ charm, it’s as relaxing as you think it would be, and the perfect game to sink some time into after a long day if you need to relax. Everything is building toward a mellow experience, even if it can lack precision with exactly what you’re trying to do. Much like nature in real life, the way plants can grow is unpredictable.
The only criticism of this game could be it being on the Switch. Each puzzle can be rotated and moved completely, a great choice for quality of life but it can be quite fiddly on this console. Selecting items doesn’t feel exact; often I would select something and miss or misplace the item. On top of that, if you drop too many items quickly the game grinds to a halt for a few seconds. Obviously it’s a slow-paced puzzle game, you aren’t supposed to drop too many things at once, but when you do the Switch does struggle to keep up.
Cloud Gardens running poorly in places is such a disappointment because it is the only thing that lets it down. The simple art style is incredibly impactful, perfectly painting the idea of a desolate and empty world that has long been left by humanity. While the music is subtle, it’s still a joy to listen to whilst you work your way through the 100 levels on offer. For those who enjoy doing their own thing and want much more once the levels are done, there is a creative mode, which enables the player much more freedom acting as a sandbox for the game.
Cloud Gardens is a great puzzle game that aims to soothe where many puzzle games can cause stress. There are a few-quality-of life issues but what is on offer is well worth checking out for any puzzle fans out there. The strength of Cloud Garden is how peaceful and lonely an experience it is, justifying its purchase for anyone.